by Kieran Mulvaney
In the end, despite his reportedly dilettante approach to training, and notwithstanding the informal pool among reporters as to whether he would make weight, Julio Cesar Chavez weighed in at 158 lbs. on Friday, two pounds inside the middleweight limit and – the bigger surprise – one pound lighter than opponent Sergio Martinez. Indeed, there were some who felt that, instead of looking too hefty, Chavez had perhaps tilted too far in the other direction, that he appeared drawn.
We shall see. Either way, it seems immensely improbable that the present weight ratios will remain come fight time; the consensus among the cognoscenti is that Chavez will likely weigh around 180 pounds by the time he steps in the ring, outweighing Martinez by close to a stone, as the British would say.
Whether that will be enough for the Mexican to blunt the Argentine’s perceived advantages in speed and skill remains to be seen. But the weigh-in appeared to confirm what 24/7 had suggested: Martinez and Chavez genuinely do not like each other.
Of course, boxing occupies the shadows between reality and deceit, and it would not be without precedent for two boxers and their camps to exaggerate personal disdain in pursuit of sales. But Martinez, waving to the packed and passionate crowd at the Wynn’s Encore Theatre, wasted no time after the two men had stepped off the scales in walking across the stage toward his foe.
They stood nose-to-nose, their jaws moving but their evident insults unheard above the baying crowd.
“I told him it will be a war, because I want a war,” Martinez told HBO’s Max Kellerman. “I’m going to punish him, I will hit him. I will give my life for Argentina.”
“I told him I was going to be here tomorrow,” said Chavez. “He told me he was going to rip my head off.”
And with that, as the exuberant Martinez continued to play to the crowd, Chavez Jr. stalked off backstage, no longer needing to focus on trimming excess weight from his frame, able now only to channel his energies toward the challenge that awaits him from Martinez.